Is carrageenan bad? No, it isn’t. Carrageenan has undergone a pretty safe processing and manufacturing that makes it completely safe. On the other hand, there is also the poligeenan, another string of red algae that is claimed to share the same characteristic as the carrageenan. The poligeenan is dangerous and it can potentially make you ill.
Understanding the Issue
You see, carrageenan and poligeenan are two different entities and yet they are always considered the same because they come from the same source: the red algae. However, when the red algae are processed through the acid bath and stuff, it becomes the poligeenan. When the red algae are processed in a safe manner, it becomes the carrageenan. The end result of poligeenan and carrageenan are completely different so you should look at them as different subjects.
The carrageenan is the food grade substance that is often mixed into food products, enhancing the flavor, texture, and also taste. The substance has been used in the food industry for quite a while. FDA has also done several tests, studies, and experiments and they have found nothing wrong with it. But those who are uneducated about the matter and don’t get the overall facts about this issue often think that carrageenan and poligeenan are just the same.
The poligeenan is basically the degraded carrageenan – the negative carrageenan, you may say. It hasn’t been used in the food industry for more than a century because of the harmful and toxic trait. What about the claim saying that the carrageenan can turn into poligeenan through the body’s digestive process? Well, such thing isn’t true. It takes a special facility with special mechanical (and also technical and chemical) process to turn the carrageenan into a poligeenan. Your body isn’t exactly the right ‘manufacturing plant’ that can do such thing. So, no… it would be impossible for the carrageenan to turn into a carrageenan through the body’s natural processing.